K’Dắt (pictured far right) is something of a veteran when it comes to patrolling and protecting the forest near the Tà Lài Commune where he lives. K’Dắt joined the patrols to protect against illegal logging and poaching in 2014. But a big part of K’Dắt’s work takes place outside the cover of trees, in conversations with his fellow community members. “We try to convince people that forest resources are running out and we should not chop down trees or trap birds and animals,” he says. “At first people challenged us, but over time they managed to understand, since local people rely on the forest for their livelihood. Given the decreasing resources, people now understand.” As one of the leaders of his community’s patrols, K’Dắt receives 10 million Vietnamese Dong (about $430 dollars). It’s money that helps him send his 14-year-old daughter and young son to school while also helping cover other daily living expenses. While K’Dắt has spent much of his time convincing neighbors that forest protection is important, his message is universal. “I share the common global awareness forests are very useful to us,” he says. “They help absorb carbon, combat floods, storms and drought.”

Guardians of the Forest

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Country Vietnam

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